Brexit Whitepaper: our analysis

Briefing on Brexit Whitepaper: the future relationship between the EU and the UK

Late last week the Government published its long-awaited white paper providing more detail on the processes and arrangement it will seek with the EU between now and the end of the implementation period in December 2020.

While the document addresses certain issues in some detail there are still many is to dot and ts to cross before we as an industry can be comfortable that we have been heard by Government, particularly regarding a future immigration system. See all our priorities in our State of Play report. 

The key policy points in the white paper that will affect the games industry go into some detail on where we’ll stay and where we’ll go. The UK’s participation in the Single Market, the Digital Single Market, the Customs Union and freedom of movement will end, with some limited and to-be defined caveats.

However, regarding data flow our lobbying and the lobbying of other creative and digital industries has been heard. The paper rightly prioritises the importance of the free flow of data to anything that could resemble a successful Brexit. As the document notes, “data flows already account for a higher proportion of global growth than trade in physical goods”. There are few industries more attune to this truth than our own.

Hearteningly, the government have placed data flow at the centre of both their trade and security proposals and are even seeking to go beyond matching the present EU Data Adequacy framework to develop a “clear, transparent framework to facilitate dialogue, minimise risk of disruption to data flows and support the stable relationship” of the EU and the UK.

They also propose joined up enforcement action between the UK’s Information Commissioners Office and the EU’s Data Protection Authorities. As well as not limiting the data that can be exchanged with Europe, this proposal, if accepted, would make it safer still to buy, play and communicate through games online.

There is also some good news regarding the provision for EU funding and programmes as the paper suggests a willingness to continue UK participation in certain cultural, scientific and educational programmes and investment opportunities such as Horizon Europe and Creative Europe. However, the level of commitment to this proposal seems limited – options that one is “open to exploring” may not be the highest priority for the final edit.

Freedom of movement and access to talent is an issue however that remains quite severely lacking in clarity. The paper emphasises that they want to retain the UK’s ability to attract the “brightest and best”, and that there will be provisions for mobility for people providing services and for businesses “to move their talented people”, allowing for intra-company transfers across borders. It also proposes a reciprocal youth mobility programme including students wanting to study in Europe.

However, no definition is given for what constitutes the “best and brightest”. While they would permit paid work for EU citizens, it would be “only in limited and clearly defined circumstances” which are left undefined. There are also no additional details on a future immigration system for the UK, merely a promise that it will be “set out in due course”.  See our submission on talent to the Migration Advisory Council due to report back soon. 

This crucial area of uncertainty and lack of detail, so fundamental to the success of Brexit for our industry, is disappointing. It also seems fair to say that, despite many of the positive outcomes of this white paper, there is likely to be many a slip between cup and lip during the implementation period.

We look forward to working with the sector, the government and policy makers to underline the more vital of our policy needs, most of which closely align with those of the broader creative and digital industries. 

Make sure you sign up to any of the three dates and locations for our UK-wide consultation tour and look out for more dates and locations as they are announced to have your voice heard.